Over the last three years thanks to a generous EU grant Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Special Olympics has successfully delivered an ambitious vision to transform school environments into societies with acceptance and inclusion for young people with intellectual disability. Through Play Unified: Learn Unified Special Olympics implements its transforming school-based programming –Unified Schools—In 14 countries and jurisdictions around the globe. In just three short years – despite the challenges of a pandemic –Play Unified: Learn Unified has forged an international team of youth leaders, teachers, community organizers and coaches who bring the power of social integration to schools and communities in six Special Olympics Regions every day.
Special Olympics is very proud to have reached 750,000 athletes and their peer partners worldwide. As a vital component of this international effort Play Unified: Learn Unified in itself has now reached over 200,000 young people and along the way revealed how young people define and want a world of inclusion that imagines an entire planet characterized by understanding, empathy and dignity. In addition, since 2018 Play Unified: Learn Unified has employed over 1,950 Unified Schools, educated more than 26,000 Unified Sports coaches and teachers and assigned more than 300 Youth Innovation Scholarships to young people who are eager to implement their own ideas of inclusion.
The stories of faces of inclusion highlight the impact of Play Unified: Learn Unified through the lens of our key society – students, coaches, teachers, parents and organizational partners. These stories put faces on the many lives and societies that have been forever changed through the transforming power of Play Unified: Learn Unified. By joining forces, the SNF and Special Olympics have made it possible for their efforts and influence to burst far beyond the schoolhouse doors and promote communities and cultures where intellectual differences are accepted and embraced.
The pages of Faces of Inclusion introduce you to just a handful of the thousands of people whose day-to-day-out commitment has taken Play Unified: Learn Unified from vision to reality.
These are the people who drive integration forward in their own schools and communities.
These are the people whose lives have changed because of Play Unified: Learn Unified.
These are their stories of influence.